Hike in import duty on US apples to strengthen domestic prices

Economy


An increase in duty on imports from the US is likely to strengthen the prices of apple in India ahead of the domestic harvest season that begins in the last week of July. The domestic crop is expected to improve due to severe wintry conditions after it had dwindled due to erratic weather last season.

India, in a retaliatory action, has lately increased import on 28 products including apples. The duty has been increased by 20 per cent on apples, taking it to 70 per cent.

“The higher prices of US apples are likely to turn the consumers to domestic varieties or the US traders will have to give away part of their margins on import from the country to remain competitive in Indian market,” a senior executive of Mumbai-based NGT Trading Limited, said.

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The US is a leading exporter of apples to India and accounts for 30-40 per cent of total apple imports in recent years. A better domestic crop of apple dents imports from August to March when the local fruit is available.

Traders maintain that the higher price of US apples will turn the trade to other destinations like Chile, Poland, Serbia and Turkey. India had also disallowed import of apple from China last year. Traders based in Delhi said that India could allow import of apple from China. The Apple imports from China were stopped in 2017 over quarantine issues.

India’s domestic apple harvest has been marred by erratic weather in 2018 as hailstorm and untimely snow affected the crop in Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. The increase in duty has come as a positive development for domestic growers.

“Last year was a lean crop year as drought had hit the plantations,” a senior horticulture official in Himachal Pradesh, said.

Though output was more than average in Jammu & Kashmir last year, quality was marred by erratic weather.

“The output stood at 22.35 lakh tonnes compared to the highest ever 24.5 lakh tonnes in the state,” a senior official of Jammu & Kashmir Horticulture department, said.

In recent years, adverse climatic conditions cut output to its lowest levels in Himachal Pradesh. Unfavourable weather caused extensive damage to fruit laden plantations in J&K last year. The output stood at 3.68 lakh tonnes against normal output of 10 lakh tonnes in Himachal Pradesh.

“Weather has been favourable so far and output is likely to show revival this year,” a senior official of Himachal Pradesh Horticulture department said.



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